The doors we select often reflect esthetic values.
Good morning, my lovely readers!
I hope all is well! Today I want to talk about something so simple that you might think to yourself, “Really?!” Well, yes, we really are going to talk about front doors. After all, my column is called “Through the Front Door”! You knew I would address this subject at some time! I’m sure you’ve all seen doors that just delight you, whether they’re simply charming, gorgeous or flat-out enormous. So let’s take a closer look.
To be honest, the history of doors is fairly involved and somewhat boring. Suffice it to say that the earliest doors were observed in Egyptian tomb drawings. Doors today keep out the elements and insects while providing privacy and safety. The doors we select, however, often reflect esthetic values. And front doors are an important part of our lives—far more important than a board with a doorknob and a lock. They not only let the outside into our private worlds, but they say so much about who might be on the other side of that door.
To begin with, a front door can make comings and goings very appealing with a “please come and visit for awhile” attitude. (Although front doors can also emit a stern “we mean business and you better have a good reason for disturbing us” air.) Most certainly we’ve all heard the door slam, followed by the holler from an excited child. Or, we’ve all waited impatiently for someone to arrive home, with every other glance drifting towards the front door.
Getting Your Foot in the Door
Several years ago, when I opened my shop in Wichita, I wanted a very homey, charming, “you are so welcome in here” look. The only thing I could imagine was a Dutch door, a style popular with Dutch settlers of New York and New Jersey in the 18th century. If you are unfamiliar with this type of a door, let me describe it for you. (I can almost hear you saying, “Oh, I know what she’s talking about…”) It’s one of those doors that’s split horizontally so you can open the upper portion to let in light and fresh air. You may remember the charming Dutch door in the “I Love Lucy” country home—I truly believe seeing that inspired my fondness for them.
I admit there were times when a few uninvited insects came for a visit, but the pure pleasure outweighed that for me. Sometimes being practical is just not much fun, and I prefer to error on the side of fun. If you want to add vision of welcoming charm, consider a delightful Dutch door.
Another option is to complement your door style to your home’s style. Let’s say you have the God Bless America home or a “Leave it to Beaver” home—perhaps a Georgian design—where the house is very symmetrical. The house is split down the middle and the left side mirrors the right side. These doors don’t typically include windows, but there may be some entryway light coming in from side lights (windows on either side of the door) or a transom or palladium window above the door. In these homes, the door often features a postal slot and door knocker, elements of the past.
Four and six panel doors are always a classic, so dignified and elegant. When painted or stained, they make a stunning element to your home. Maybe you like to take a peek out the door before opening it. Think about a peek door, which has windows on the upper half. For privacy, use a sheer window treatment or introduce some lovely stained glass that still allows a bit of peek.
Doors can be tailored for any period of home. For example, a door with oval glass and a spider web design is just the perfect addition to a Victorian charmer. A good deal of detail went into the doors of Victorian homes, including elaborately carved detailing. The Italians added beautiful arching to the glazing (glass) of the doors for a sparkle of elegance in their version of Victorian.
If you are smitten with the Arts and Crafts period, select a door that is planked, maybe with some black wrought iron strapping and hardware. These doors are heavy in both appearance and operation. A series of small windows at the top clustered in three over three is typical. Stained glass is a classic element of Arts and Crafts doors. Some of these doors, as well as a Tudor-style doors, may include a “speakeasy” as well. A speakeasy is a tiny door at the top that you can open to see who’s there.
The hardware that outfits your door finishes off the look like the perfect jewelry! During my research, one website referred to the front door handle as "the handshake to your home"! How charming is that sentiment?
When it comes to your front door accessories, so many finishes are available these days. First, decide on the style you want the door to reflect, then start the search process. Do you go with classic brass, but maybe with a bit duller finish than in past years? Or maybe oil-rubbed bronze, which has had quite the good run in recent years. Consider sleek chrome in polish or matte. Black wrought iron is another wonderful addition to a door, especially on a Tudor or Arts and Craft door. Oh, there are so many options and so many decisions to make! Note that you can preserve whatever finish you choose with Baldwin Brass (www.baldwinhardware), a patented seal that protects the finish for a lifetime, literally halting the aging process. Hardware can be on the expensive side, so do take some time with your selection. On the practical side, make sure you get the right handle and lock system. To do this, place a ruler along the inside of the door where the locking mechanism is and take a picture. From that image, the store can direct you to the correct type of system.
The Decorated Door
We all love the imaginative accessories dwellers adorn their doors with. Wreaths can become such and important aspect of the door décor, allowing you to showcase the seasons with such a simple bit of attention. The creative items I've seen people decorate their front door with have become a true art form. I recently saw a partially closed polka-dot umbrella, tied with a bow about a third of the way from the bottom, and the top filled with a bouquet of tulips, Easter eggs…so fun! Another version I spotted was a weathered watering bucket filled with flowers. You might even try a flat-backed basket. Make sure to protect the finish of your door by adhering some felt to the back of any decorative items that might leave marks. I have often thought a chalkboard would be a useful item—want to leave a message and there you go! Frame up the chalkboard, hang it from a wonderful full bow and place the chalk nearby in a container—so charming. All these little enrichments allow the door to tell the visitor something about you!
Worth the Wait
Changing a home’s front door is one of the easiest—and most mighty—changes you can make. On my own Highland House, the door is just not connecting with the front elevation of the home. Unfortunately, a good door is expensive so this change is not likely to happen in the time frame I want. I, too, need to wait until this modification fits the budget. But we all know the pure joy that comes from waiting and being smart about the choice and timing. In fact, the wait can make the change that much more magical. Imagine becoming almost giddy with the thrill of admiring your long-awaited front door!
Here’s wishing you a wonderful week! Gosh, maybe I will surprise someone with a knock on their front door just to say, “good morning and happy spring!”